Lichfield & Hatherton Canals
Work at Tamworth Road on the Lichfield Canal has slowed with the bywash project at Lock 25 approaching completion. The news that the Trust has been awarded £35,000 Section 106 money is therefore very timely. Our engineers and project planners have been looking at ways of getting the maximum benefit from this grant which will be used to progress the plans for watering Pound 26, using the flow located in the “Big Pipe” (a land drain laid in the bed of the canal after it closed). There are several highly technical drainage issues to be resolved, especially a surface water drain which will “drown” if it remains in its current location. Contractors will be used for much of the scheme but there will also be plenty for the volunteers to do. On the Hatherton we are talking to British Waterways about the removal of the infill from the Lord Hayes Branch from its junction with the Wyrley and Essington at Pelsall to Fishley Lane Bridge. Progress here will allow us to start Phase 1 of the Hatherton restoration along the line confirmed by Atkins (which will use a new cut from the original Hatherton route near Churchbridge to the Lord Hayes Branch, rather than entering the W&E via the Cannock Extension as the original route did) when they revised the Arup Report.
L&H and Sussex Ouse Good progress at Isfield Lock: Following a very dry spring in the southeast the volunteer groups working on the restoration of Isfield Lock on the River Ouse were able to begin work earlier in the season whilst enjoying good conditions on site. The Trust has acquired a good condition two tonne dumper, so vital given the amount of spoil and earth that will require moving about the site during the next phase of the restoration. After the restoration of the east chamber wall and the upper and lower east wing walls, the next phase involves the restoration of the west wall. Prior to work beginning the Trust was anticipating that this task would occupy at least five years work, restoring short sections per year. However hopes were raised somewhat once digging out behind the first section of the wall began when it was soon apparent that the wall, or certainly the first section tackled, was in better shape than anticipated. However the reinforcement of the first section still demanded the removal of a considerable amount of spoil and the new dumper came into its own. At the time of writing the digging out of that first section is complete and the reinforced concrete structure designed to stabilise and support the wall is being built. Demolition of the inner lock wall down to the depth of an identified fault line is also underway and this will be re-built prior to work progressing onto the next section. So the progress made this year is already very satisfying and the mood is upbeat. If work continues at this pace the predicted time required to complete the entire length of the west wall could be shorter than first predicted. The once daunting task perhaps does not look quite so daunting after all. But as everyone is no doubt aware, with restoration work one never knows what is around the corner? Terry Owen
Isfield Lock: preparing to concrete behind the wall
Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.